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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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Land Resources Management Program
Complaints Filed Under Land Resources Management Program

This page provides guidance and instructions on how to file a complaint with Land Resources Management Program (Alteration of Terrain, Shoreland, Subsurface Systems and Wetlands).

The Land Resources Management Program is committed to responding to complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible. Because of the high volume of complaints received, complaints are prioritized. Prioritization is based on ongoing or the potential threat to human health and the environment.

Before you decide to file a complaint, please read the following to ensure that you provide us with the best information to perform a thorough investigation of the issue.

 
  • What constitutes a violation and warrants a formal complaint?
    In general, common specific types of complaints include:
    • Dredging or filling wetlands without a permit
    • Failed septic system or alteration of a septic system without a permit
    • Land alteration or construction within 250 feet of the protected Shoreland without a permit
    • Large earthmoving operations equal to or greater than 100,000 square feet in size
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  • What complaints are not addressed by the Land Resources Management Program?
    Common types of complaints that are not addressed by Land Resources Management Program include:
    • Burying of solid/hazardous waste: NHDES Waste Management Division (603) 271-3503
    • Discharge of water/waste from pipes: NHDES Wastewater Engineering Bureau (603) 271-2942
    • Smoke, fugitive dust, asbestos-related emissions, outdoor wood boiler emissions: NHDES Air Resources Division (603) 271- 1370
    • Swim lines, moorings, swim rafts: Department of Safety/Marine Patrol (603) 267-6453
    • Underground/aboveground petroleum storage tanks: Local Code Enforcement at the Municipal Office
    • Water quality issues (objects in waterbodies, fish kills, flow issues, foam, non-point discharges, water odor, oil sheens on waterbodies, dumping into waterbodies, turbidity/erosion, water quality problems, waterbody-related health concerns, and other surface water issues). Submit this complaint form Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbolto the NHDES Watershed Management Bureau.
    • Mismanagement of manure or agricultural compost. Submit this complaint form Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol to the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.
For other types of complaints that are not specifically listed, such as chemical or petroleum spills, please refer to the following webpage for other NHDES complaint forms and resources.
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  • What activities require a permit from the Land Resources Management Program?
    The activity you are concerned with may have been permitted by the Land Resources Management Program. The Land Resources Management Program permits the activities below if they take place in wetlands or surface waters.
    • Beach construction
    • Boathouses
    • Breakwaters
    • Culvert installation, repair or replacement
    • Disturbance of a slope greater than 25% within 50 feet of a surface water
    • Disturbance of greater than 50,000 square feet of contiguous area within 250 feet of a public water
    • Docks (seasonal and permanent)
    • Earthmoving operations for industrial, commercial and residential developments, sand/gravel pits, and rock quarries
    • Timber Harvesting
    • Installation or replacement of septic systems
    • Large erosion control projects
    • Large stormwater management projects
    • Projects on land within 250 feet of certain waters subject to the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act including new construction of buildings and homes, garages/sheds, decks/patios/gazebos, vegetation/tree removal beyond certain limits, excavation with equipment
    • Retaining/rock/wooden walls
    • Subdivision of land less than 5 acres into two or more lots for any reason including sale, rent, lease, or condominium or building development
    • Work within the tidal buffer zone (100 feet landward of the highest observable tide line)
    • Trails
    • Utility inspection, maintenance and repair (electric, gas, water)
    • Watercraft lifts
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  • What activities do not require a permit from the Land Resources Management Program?
    There are a variety of activities that do not require permits from Land Resources Management Program. Please review the sections of the laws and rules below which provide exemptions to certain land development activities.
    • Section Env-Wt 303.05 of the NH Wetlands Rules lists Projects that Do Not Require a Permit
    • Section Env-Wt 1406 of the NH Shoreland Rules lists Statutory Exemptions, Exemptions for Vested Rights and Activities that Do Not Require a Shoreland Permit
    • Section Env-Wq 1503.03 of the NH Alteration of Terrain Rules lists projects that may be deemed to have a Permit by Rule
    • Section Env-Wq 1000 of the NH Subdivision and Septic System Rules
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  • How can I determine if the activity has been permitted?
  • The activity you are considering reporting may have been permitted by local officials or the Land Resources Management Program. You can research locally issued permits by working with a local official such as the chair of your conservation commission, code enforcement officer, or health enforcement officer. To see if the Land Resources Management Program may have permitted the activity, use the following queries:
If the search is unsuccessful, contact the Land Resources Management Program regional permitting inspector for additional help with your inquiry. The regional permitting inspector can be reached by calling (603) 271-2147 and indicating the project's location by town or calling directly using the following guide Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.
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  • What do I do if the activity has not been permitted?
    • Discuss the activity with the alleged violator.
      If feasible, try discussing the issue and the applicable regulations with the alleged violator first. Many issues are misunderstandings and may be resolved with discussion of the situation.
    • Determine if the activity warrants a formal complaint.
      Before you file, use our interactive tool to determine if the activity warrants a valid complaint.
    • If the activity warrants a formal complaint, report it to the Land Resource Management Program.
      Activities which do not appear to be permitted by the Land Resources Management Program and are not investigated by local officials can be reported to NHDES.

The complaint form is a means for the general public to report violations of New Hampshire laws falling under the jurisdiction of the NH Department of Environmental Services' Land Resources Management Program (Alteration of Terrain, Shoreland, Subsurface, Wetlands). Due to the vast amount of complaints submitted, the Land Resources Management Program relies on the public to provide thorough and accurate information. Incomplete forms and anonymous complaints may not be investigated.

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  • Can I be an "anonymous" complainant?
    The Land Resources Management Program does not process "anonymous" complaints where the complainant does not provide their name and contact information on the complaint form. Complainants can elect to be a "confidential complainant."
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  • What is a "confidential complainant?"
    A complainant may elect to be a "confidential complainant" on the Land Resources Management Complaint Form but the complainant's name and contact information must be included on the complaint form. This information is redacted within the public file and is not disclosed to the public. In the event a compliance case requires adjudication within the NH Court System, the defendant and / or their legal counsel has the right to know the name and contact information of the complainant.
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  • How do I find the tax card and tax map?
    Tax cards and tax maps can typically be found on the town's assessing webpage or on-line via websites such as Vision Government Solutions or Avitar Associates of New England. Tax maps can typically be found on the town's assessing webpage or through a call to the town assessor's office.
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  • What happens after a complaint is received?
    Once a completed complaint form and additional attachments are received by the Land Resources Management Program, the information is entered into an internal database within 1-3 business days and the file is assigned a nine-digit number (For example: 2017-01234). The file is then given to the regional compliance inspector Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol. Next,  a letter is issued to the "alleged violator" notifying them of the nature of the complaint, providing them 20 days to respond in writing, and informing them that the case has been added to our inspection list. The Land Resources Management Program will assess environmental harm. Complaints alleging an immediate or ongoing threat to water quality, an immediate or ongoing threat to public health, and / or an immediate or ongoing threat that has the potential for irreversible harm to the environment are given the highest priority. Complaints alleging a violation involving docks are given the lowest priority. All other complaints are given a medium priority.
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  • What happens if a violation is observed and documented?
    If a violation of NHDES Land Resources Management laws or administrative rules is discovered during the complaint investigation process, the Land Resources Management Program will determine an appropriate compliance action that is the most likely to achieve compliance, and, if necessary, provide remediation to the environment. Typically, the Land Resources Management Program begins by requesting the property owner and / or contractor restore unauthorized impacts to regulated resources. The Land Resources Management Program can use a variety of compliance actions, including, but not limited to Letters of Deficiency, Administrative Orders, Administrative Fines, and referral to the NH Attorney General's Office. Each of these compliance actions are described in detail within the NHDES Compliance Assurance Response Policy (CARP).
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  • How can I get an update on the status of my complaint?
    While you will not be copied on correspondence and contents of the file you may contact the NHDES Public Information and Permitting Unit at any time to either perform a file review, or obtain a copy of the file (at cost). Please call (603)271-8808 to schedule a file review or have copies made of the file. Additionally, you may contact the regional compliance inspector Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol with questions. It is recommended you contact the inspector no more than every 20-30 days. The regional inspectors have high workloads, especially during summer and fall. Please be patient as they work through your complaint along with many others.   
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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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